Sunday, September 16, 2012
A sad day when it takes a threat of mayhem to get civility out of the British military
After the guy complained to his local airforce base about overflights they reacted in a normal military way by increasing their harassment. That is a standard way of treating dissent in the military but it is totally inappropriate when dealing with the public.
I know an airforce guy who refused a deployment to a remote and unpleasant area of Australia -- so they sent him to Afghanistan three times instead: perfectly normal and appropriate in a service environment but brainless otherwise
An angry businessman has threatened to raise a weather balloon above his land every day to stop a ‘gang of Hooray Henrys’ from Prince William’s RAF base thundering overhead in their planes.
John Arthur Jones, 62, said the aircraft roar over his estate up to 75 times a day, as low as 200ft and at speeds of around 400mph, instead of flying over empty fields.
He was so annoyed by the Hawk jets that he threatened to raise a balloon into their flight path every day from his property in Anglesey, North Wales, to deter the pilots.
The chartered surveyor said the planes from nearby RAF Valley, where the Duke of Cambridge works as a rescue pilot, were scaring children attending a nursery on his land at Parc Cefni, where he rents out property to businesses.
He repeatedly wrote to the base, asking in one letter: ‘Are our children being subjected, as some say in the village, to punishment by a gang of Hooray Henrys for daring to ask if they will fly over open fields instead of a children’s nursery?’
In another letter, he warned: ‘Since you have refused to send independent observers to Parc Cefni I will be arranging for a weather balloon to be raised daily at the corner of our property. It will be taken down each evening at midnight.’
Within 48 hours of the base receiving the balloon threat, police were dispatched to talk to him and said the RAF had become concerned for their safety and that of the public.
Mr Jones said he felt the response was ‘ridiculous’. ‘I told the policeman I was proposing to put one up because the planes were scaring the children,’ he said. ‘The safety aspect of this was my main concern and I was worried.
‘These planes are coming in at a speed of around 400mph and as they get to the edge of the property they open the throttle and give it a hell of a blast. ‘I had noticed that the jets were starting to fly much lower and far more regularly.
‘They were flying straight over us despite having the rest of the fields surrounding us, which are either empty or have cattle in.’
A spokesman for RAF Valley said: ‘We take our broader community responsibilities very seriously and we always strive to be a good neighbour, so we regret that Mr Jones has had cause to complain. '[Pilots] are instructed to try to avoid direct over-flight of the Parc Cefni children’s nursery whenever possible.’
Speaking of the response to the balloon threat, a police spokesman said: ‘North Wales Police classified the event as “precautionary” and deployed an officer to speak with the resident and clarify his intentions and advise of the possible dangers to air traffic and the local community. ‘An amicable conversation ensued during which time our concerns for safety to local residents and air traffic were expressed.’
Masters of cover-up: How the British Establishment closes ranks to protect its own and deny the people the truth
The illusion finally shatters. All his life, STEPHEN GLOVER (below) has believed in Britain’s great institutions. No more. The sad lesson of the Hillsborough disaster is how the Establishment — judges, police chiefs, civil servants — closes ranks to protect its own and deny the people the truth
Cover-up, lies, obfuscation and incompetence: these are the defects in the police and ambulance service revealed by this week’s damning report into the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in which 96 people died.
It has taken 23 long years to establish the shaming truth, which is that senior police officers manipulated evidence to hide police failings while attempting, with great success, to blacken the good name of the innocent people who needlessly perished.
Evil is a strong word, but some of the things the top brass of South Yorkshire Police are alleged to have done — the doctoring of 116 statements to remove criticisms of the force; the imputation of excessive alcohol consumption where none had taken place — would appear to warrant such a description.
Prosecutions and civil actions will doubtless follow as some of the guilty are finally brought to justice, and there will surely have to be a new inquest. At last everyone seems to be united in condemning the authorities.
Senior police officers and politicians beat their breasts. David Crompton, current chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, tells us his force is in a ‘very different place in 2012’, the implication being that what has happened could never happen again because the police have changed.
But couldn’t it? Have they? I wish I could believe it. Alas, I don’t. Hillsborough has been a classic institutional cover-up which has only been brought to our notice because of the heroic persistence of the relatives of those who died. The Establishment mindset — to hide wrong-doing and ineptitude and never say sorry until it is too late — has not altered.
As a young journalist I believed in the integrity and good sense of most of our institutions. Of course, there were bad apples and stupid mistakes, but there were enough good and honest people in charge to come clean and own up when things went badly wrong.
After a succession of scandals over recent years, it grieves me to say that I no longer believe this is true, and I don’t suppose it ever was. One episode after another has revealed a familiar and melancholy pattern of skulduggery and concealment.
Nearly all the institutions which I was taught to revere as a child have turned out to be self-serving, incompetent or dishonest — the police, Parliament, the Church, the civil service, government, the City and, I regret to say, some parts of the Press.
A dear and distinguished friend of mine blames the relentless media for hollowing out one institution after another, and lowering them in the public esteem. I’m afraid he’s wrong. The media have simply shone lights where they used not to be shone, and illuminated practices which all of us had hoped did not exist.
In a way, the most shocking thing about Hillsborough is that no one is really very surprised. The police have lost much of the respect they used to command. I was certainly brought up to trust them, and can remember throwing aside in disgust a book by George Orwell in which he doubted the decency of the police.
But maybe he was right. Of course, there are many brave and conscientious police officers. It’s their bosses I worry about — people like the then Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair, who tried to block an independent inquiry into the shooting in cold blood by one of his officers of the young Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005.
Look at Parliament. When I was a boy, I believed there were few more honourable letters to have after your name than MP. Even when I was in the Commons press gallery 30 years ago I still looked up to parliamentarians, though I was beginning to learn they did not always tell the truth. That was long before the more recent MPs’ expenses scandal.
Of course many MPs were innocent of any fiddling, but just as many weren’t. In fact, 389 of them — more than half the Commons — were asked to pay back money to the taxpayer amounting to more than £1 million.
A hard core were straightforward crooks, and three MPs (and two peers) went to prison. But the majority were simply greedy, claiming for items they should have purchased themselves. It was depressing that some of the miscreants were privileged and supposedly gentlemanly Tory MPs who should have known better.
Have things improved? I’m not at all convinced they have. Recent figures show that in 2011/12 MPs’ expenses rose 26 per cent to £89.4 million, which is close to pre-scandal levels. First-class rail travel, supposed to be exceptional, is again becoming the norm. Fifty MPs have even been allowed to claim for expensive iPads. Why?
As with the police over Hillsborough, endemic wrong-doing among MPs remained secret for many years, and was ultimately exposed as a result of the efforts of outsiders, in this case the Press.
But it’s not just the institutions of the State that have let us down. As the son of a clergyman, I was brought up to believe that, come what may, the Church could be trusted. How wrong I was, and how saddened my father would have been to read about the cover-up of hundreds of paedophile cases in the Roman Catholic Church.
His own Church of England has also betrayed its congregations, albeit on a smaller scale. A recent internal report into the Diocese of Chichester disclosed a familiar picture of senior clergy being slow to act in sexual abuse cases, putting the Church’s reputation before the interests of children and their families. If you can’t trust a priest, whom can you trust?
Then there are the bankers. Some of them, such as the Royal Bank of Scotland’s disgraced former chief executive Fred Goodwin, showed recklessness and greed while behaving as if the banks were their own private property. Here it is hard to believe that their predecessors of 50 years ago were as rapacious and blindly egotistical.
Most of all, we have been disheartened by the lies and evasions of government. I believe that Tony Blair manipulated the evidence in taking this country to war against Iraq. It is perfectly true that most observers thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. What Blair did was to exaggerate the potency of weapons that turned out in any case to be fictitious.
His response to the growing case against him was a classic Establishment ruse — to appoint a friendly judge, in this instance Lord Hutton, and give him a narrow brief. Nine times out of ten a judge-led inquiry will obligingly come up with findings which suit the government of the day.
That was the case with Lord Hutton, though his implausible exoneration of Mr Blair may possibly be reversed by Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry, which has yet to deliver its verdict. This is being impeded by the Coalition’s refusal to allow it to publish relevant Cabinet papers. As ever, the Whitehall mandarins who stand behind every government live in fear of openness and candour.
Plagiarized EPA ‘Hispanic Heritage Month’ E-Mail Features Che Guevara
Amusing that they portray Hispanics as still being in the horse-and-cart era -- but as a depiction of Cuba that is probably pretty accurate. And the EPA would like to get us all back to that low civilizational level, of course
The Environmental Protection Agency sent out an official email on Thursday recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month. The email included plagiarized work from an obscure website on Hispanic culture and featured a photo of notorious Cuban communist Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
The email was sent by EPA management analyst Susie Goldring. The agency distanced itself from the email Thursday night, saying it was “drafted and sent by an individual employee, and without official clearance. Shortly after sending the email in question the individual apologized to her colleagues for the inadvertent error.”
Guevara was Fidel Castro’s thuggish right-hand-man after his despotic government took power in the early 1950s. Guevara himself is thought to be responsible for scores of murders carried out in the name of the Cuban revolution and the Castro regime.
“Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands,” Guevara exclaimed in his diaries. “My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!”
EPA’s email includes material that appears to be taken directly, and without attribution, from Buzzle.com’s page on “Hispanic Culture Facts.”
Cuban-American Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, blasted the EPA in a news release Thursday evening:
I am aghast and upset that a federal agency would send an email depicting el Che Guevara in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. This Administration just doesn’t seem to get it. The image of Che is an insult to countless people who lost family members because of his evil and twisted acts.
El Che was a blood thirsty, vengeful, cowardly, sadistic, two bit delinquent who used his position as enforcer in chief of the Castro brothers to send countless innocent persons before the firing squads. His role in the early part of the disastrous calamity that befell the Cuban nation known as the Castro Revolution is well documented and those who ignore it do so willingly so as not to tarnish their love affair with the dictatorship of the Castro brothers.
Surely, the EPA could have chosen the image of a Hispanic person who really possessed the attributes that showcase our proud Hispanic heritage. This sad and unnecessary episode encompasses all that is wrong with this Administration: Their priorities are backwards and their allegiances border on the fringe of society with a leftist fanatical slant that is worrisome and not descriptive of our great nation.
Here is the full text of the email, posted by The Weekly Standard:
From: Susie Goldring/DC/USEPA/US
Date: 09/13/2012 02:51PM
Subject: Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic news you can use!
Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15, the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico declared its independence on September 16, and Chile on September 18.
Over the past decades, the Hispanic population in the USA has shown tremendous rise. For the uninitiated, Hispanics are people who have origins related to the country Spain. In the recent years, the term Hispanics is also used to categorize a larger group of population in the US who originally belonged to the nations ruled by Spain.
Besides that, various parts of Central and Southern American countries, Mexico and even Philippines have cultures related to the Spanish origin. ‘Latinos’ or Latin Americans and people with Portuguese origin are also an integral part of Hispanic culture and traditions. California, Texas, New York, and Florida are the four states that constitute more than 70% of the total Hispanic population in the US. One of the most simple Hispanics culture facts is that majority of the Hispanic population speaks Spanish language.
Hispanic Culture in the United States
Hispanic people are vibrant, socializing and fun loving people. Among various facts associated to this culture is that they have a deep sense of involvement in their family traditions and cultures.
Social Justice Can Make You Poor
It is said that a fish has no concept of water and this adage certainly applied to how the anti-business mentality that increasingly dominates American life. Why else would a presidential candidate find it necessary to reaffirm the value of business success and almost apologize for his earned personal wealth? Why would his rival-Barrack Obama-feel it unnecessary to excuse his total lack of business experience during a time when economics is the campaign's central issue?
Properly depicting this aversion to capitalism would require a door stopper tome, so let me instead offer a far simpler mental experiment that brings this transformation into view, specifically, how trying to achieve social justice can kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.
Imagine a few early 17th century explorers finding an island somewhere in North America where the native Indians have abundant fur pelts. Trade begins-a few furs for some tools, a little jewelry and so on. The furs are sent back to Europe, word gets out and pretty soon the little island is the hub of the fur trade.
The population swells and more Indians come to town to do business, and new European arrivals build taverns, inns, storage sheds and other enterprises. The local economy grows more complex. Entrepreneurs will now arrange shipping, offer insurance, loan money to smooth out the irregularities of trade, and even supply security to those who've grown wealthy.
Indians similarly prosper. Many branch out into deer skin and duck down while others become middlemen who collect pelts in the backwoods and bring them to the trading area. Government supplies only for the most minimal functions, for example, removing dead animals from streets.
Now, almost out of nowhere, a ship (the H.M.S. Lollipop) full of community activists committed to social justice arrives and after some intense debate are permitted is disembark and settle. At first these newcomers are just happy to be on dry land but in a few weeks they got busy.
These social activists quickly observe that many of the Indians who venture into trade their wares tend to linger for a few days before their journey home. Most sleep in the open under unsanitary conditions. Nobody considers this a problem-it's just life in the rough (many settlers had once lived like that upon arrival). A few Indians trade for rum, get drunk and pass out in the town square. The social justice activists are also appalled at the terms of trade. Piles of furs that will be sold for top guilder in Europe were bartered for cheap beads and face paint, even the rum is gone within an hour after receiving it.
But, what most disturbs these social activists is how the merchants view Indians. Yes, the natives are admired for their hunting and survival skills, their stoicism in the face of immense hardship but less kind are terms like "primitive," "violent," "simple-minded" and "untrustworthy." Moreover, Europeans lack interest in learning the Indian language or appreciating their customs. Everything is just business and, to be frank, a lucrative business for all parties. (Since the social activists don't know the Indian language either it never occurs to them to ask how the Indians viewed the Europeans.)
The social activists now have their marching orders: the Indians are being exploited and their culture condemned all the while Europeans grow rich. The entire arrangement was rife with inequality, stereotypes and needs fixing.
The activists demand that some of the "obscene" trading profits be allocated to better accommodate visiting Indians, including free food and lectures about excessive drinking. A half-guilder tax per pelt is demanded to hire role models and mentors to teach the Indians modern business skills. And all Europeans should attend mandatory lessons about Indian culture taught by activists unable to speak a single word of the Indian language. Meanwhile other activists disrupt on-going trades while chanting "People not profits" and must be dragged off to the freshly built stockade. A few worried over the possibility of declining beaver and bear population visit Indian villages to teach sustainable goat herding and cheese making albeit there is no known market for goat products or goat cheese (a few goats escape, multiply and then destroy local vegetable gardens).
In the meantime what the Indians had once traded for-knives, cloth and beads and jewelry-are given away free to "exploited" Indians by "philanthropic" activists so Indians no longer hunt. Alas, however, shortages in what was especially wanted, especially rum, encourage a crime wave. Particularly hard hit by the availability of "free" goodies were women and children who once helped catch and skin animals. Tribe elders begin worrying that the tribe's hunting skills are disappearing to be replaced by listlessness.
Needless to say, this trading outpost is now less profitable and doubts are raised about whether it can be a going business, even if all the social activists are kicked out. After all, bad habits are not easily reversed and there surely must be similar wildlife rich places and Indians willing to trade for what Europeans can supply.
So, one day everything is packed up, put on the ships and the merchants and other business folk sail on to virgin territory but without the social justice champions. Traders have learned their lesson and their next colony will have a big sign, "No Community Organizers Allowed Punishable by Death."
What happens back in the original colony? The social activists soon re-discover an ancient lesson: it is easier to destroy than create. The supply of "free" trinkets ran out and the now despondent Indians daily return to the trading post in the futile hope of doing business. But, absent any new opportunities to bring social change and eliminate exploitation, and befuddled by angry unhappy Indians, the bored social activists return home, borrow money from their parents and begin working on a hard-hitting documentary film about the exploitation of Indians.
Yes, this is all a fairy tale but it makes a serious point: those who want to improve the world seldom grasp the economic realities that drive progress. For one, benefits must be commensurate with risk. Our Europeans may have made "obscene" profits, but they were risking life and limb and many who sought similar wealth died without achieving it. Big breakthroughs come from big risks and deserve compensation as such.
Second, exploitation may be in the eye of the beholder. Paying for a steel knife with a dozen of ultimately valuable beaver pelts only seems like a rip-off to economic illiterates. But that knife probably travelled 4000 dangerous miles though multiple hands and while the Indian could get dozens of pelts, he only had a single source of steel knives. The exchange was a good deal for all parties.
Third, a marketplace may be imperfect, but even an imperfect one is superior to no marketplace. Just ask those unhappy, unemployed Indians with piles of beaver pelts without any customer.
This lesson in economics can go on and on, but let me conclude with a simple message: intentions are not the same as results. What seemed like a "good idea" and "social justice" or "fairness" certainly sounds wonderful but such slogans have probably impoverished millions. Unfortunately, this high-sounding but economically illiterate sloganeering can resemble odorless, invisible carbon monoxide. After a point the goose that lays the golden eggs grows increasingly tired and one day never wakes up. That, my dear friend, is a change that you can believe in.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.